U.S. nuclear forces include intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) are launched from stationary silos. ICBMs are on continuous alert, are cost-effective, can provide immediate reaction if necessary, and can strike their intended targets within 30 minutes of launch.

Currently, the U.S. ICBM force consists of Minuteman III (MMIII) missiles. MMIII missile bases are located at F.E. Warren Air Force Base (AFB) in Wyoming, Malmstrom AFB in Montana, and Minot AFB in North Dakota.

Enhancing Global Stability

This step will enhance the stability of the nuclear balance by reducing the incentives for Russian pre-emptive nuclear attack or for U.S. launch under attack. The United States will continue the Minuteman III life extension program with the aim of keeping the fleet in service until 2030, as mandated by Congress.

Reducing Nuclear Warheads

The United States has 450 deployed, silo-based MMIII ICBMs, each with one to three warheads. The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review announced the U.S. decision to “de-MIRV” all deployed ICBMs, so that each MMIII ICBM will have only one nuclear warhead.

Cost-Effective Deterrence

The Department of Defense will begin initial study of alternatives by Fiscal Year 2012, although a decision for a follow-on ICBM is not needed for several years. The study will consider a range of possible future options, with the objective of defining a cost-effective approach that supports continued reductions in U.S. nuclear weapons while promoting stable deterrence.